To change your name on your brokerage account you will need to provide your firm with a letter of instruction along with proof of your legal name change. You don't need to send in original documents, but your document copy will need to be clear enough to show the court stamp. Some firms might require a certified copy before it will accept your name change documentation, so be sure to check your firm's specific requirements.
Contact your brokerage firm and ask for their specific requirements with respect to your legal name change. When you send your firm an email request for this information, you can get their requirements in writing, an effective way to ensure that you don't miss any of their requirements.
Compose a letter of instruction, also called a letter of authorization, instructing your brokerage firm to change the name on your account based on the legal proof enclosed with your letter. This letter does not need to conform to any particular format and it can even be hand-written as long as your handwriting is clear and legible.
Include the following information in your letter: your former name, your new legal name and the reason for the change, your full account number, the date of your letter and a phone number where you can be easily reached to verify the information you have provided. Be sure to sign your letter using your new signature.
Make a clear copy of your legal document, or obtain a certified copy from your county clerk's office (there may be a copy fee for this service).
Make a copy of your package for your records prior to mailing.
Mail the letter of instruction along with the copy of your legal proof to the address provided by your brokerage firm in their instructions to you. For changes of this nature, your brokerage firm will likely want your original signature on the letter, so faxing your documents will not be an option.
Allow your brokerage firm up to two weeks to receive your written request and make the change to your account. If you need immediate service, send your paperwork in via an overnight carrier and follow up with your firm the next day to see if it can expedite your name change. In many cases, your firm can accommodate your request at no extra charge, particularly if your request does not come during tax season.
Double-check to make sure that your new name is spelled correctly on your account information. You should be able to request any required corrections with a phone call.
Be sure to request checks and debit cards with your new name if your brokerage account offers these types of payment features. Update beneficiary information if your name change is the result of divorce.
Don't expect your brokerage firm to update your name name based on a driver's license or passport. Your firm will want its own copy of your legal proof of name change.
Julia Thomson began writing professionally in 1996. Her work has appeared in "Stage Directions," "Phoenix New Times" and "The Valley Callboard." Thomson has expertise in investing and personal finance, with three brokers' licenses and certification as a budget counselor. She holds a Master of Music from Indiana University.